(Letter to our new daughter-in-law)
Welcome to the wonders of becoming a wife. Here are my ‘sound bites’ of wisdom for a happy companionable future. I’m sure you will naturally do most of this, (without my advice), but as an old lady I feel compelled to state the obvious.
We are delighted to welcome you to our family!!! Some parts of being a wife come very easily, some require more thought. After 28 years of marriage, here are the things I wish I’d known before starting:
Get enough rest. ‘You are only as spiritual as you are rested’ and much more likely to be unhappy or susceptible to illness when you get over-tired. Your husband may work wonky hours and staying up to spend time with him will be your natural desire. Do. But catch a nap or whatever you need to make sure to get enough rest. (Coffee is lovely at helping the energy levels but not a sufficient substitute for actual sleep). For your marriage and health, get sufficient sleep.
Stay in your Bible. It will be your husband’s responsibility to lead you spiritually, but just as a child uses their own spoon when mature, you will need to keep a watch on your own walk with the Lord. His spiritual leadership will only ‘work’ if you both stay in your Bible and on your knees. As life becomes more distracting and trials come this will become more and more important. In times of trial the verses will come to mind and sustain you. In health and youth this may not seem a big deal, but one day it will. Feed yourself well.
Your husband will not be able to read your mind. Trust me on this. Your husband will not take hints. He didn’t grow up with a hinting mother, and speaking plain will be your best way to have a husband that actually understands. He will be sensitive and knowing in many ways but will not know if he has been too absorbed in his studies or has been staring at his computer screen too long. (Might be hard to imagine in the first year or two, but he will learn to ignore you for longer and longer gaps.) Many women take this as a signal that the honeymoon is over and honestly I think this is the reason God tells the older women to teach the younger to love their husbands. Men are programed by God to provide/protect/lead. Do not take being ignored personally. As you both adjust to being ‘together always’ there will be times that you will be distracted from each other. This is the normal state of life and not a lack of love or the end of romance. When you see this happening in your marriage, take a deep breath and do something unexpected and romantic. Take a break, insert yourself between him and his computer, sit on his lap and stare into each other’s eyes for five straight minutes. The longer you are married the more important it will be to keep communication open and make deliberate EYE contact. Sounds corny, but many wives feel unloved or unhappy because the man (provider/protector/leader) has forgotten to buy them flowers or be spontaneously romantic for months on end. Tell him your needs. “Hey, it’s been an awful long time since I had flowers.” A man would much rather hear this than try to guess why his perky wife has gone droopy. He’s ONLY a guy and his NATURE is to first: win his lady then second: to provide. The more secure he is of your affections the more likely his mind is to switch to provide and leave romance behind. Not any statement on you…it is totally male nature. Poor things they need our help.
You will have a huge adjustment being alone. Alone time is almost fearsome at first. There is only so much fluffing about the house making it homey that a woman can do to stay occupied. Keeping some handwork or ‘making things’ will be a big part of your home-time. Music or audio-books will help the quiet hours. Learn new things to keep your mind occupied with good. An unoccupied mind can submarine peace and the enemy will insert unhealthy thoughts to ruin your joy (after all your joy is pure and a rebuke to our enemy). There is a shock involved with becoming a wife and finding a routine that works for you. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you feel a bit lost or abandoned at first. This will pass. When your husband is at work the hours will stretch. Many new wives take some time to adjust to the intensity of being at home without their families. The idea of peace and quiet and privacy is lovely, but the reality can be lonely. Writing letters and doing handwork will help relieve the weirdness of being alone. In time you will find a routine that helps you adjust (and perhaps God will bless with little people).
Remember your friends and family. It is quite natural to be so busy about being a wife that friends and family don’t seem as important. The bond of marriage should not sever the bonds of friends/family. Your life will become wrapped up in hubby and his in yours. It is a wonderful thing, but not the only Keep in touch with people who are important to you now. They will continue to be important in a different way. Stay close to your mother and sisters. Your husband is wonderful and marriage is wonderful but as a female there will be times you NEED the female companionship.
Pray for your husband. We tend to see our men as strong, brave and tireless. They are pretty amazing, but have every weakness that is known to humanity. You will be in a unique position of encouraging him and will know how to pray for him as no-one else on the planet can! The Bible calls us help-meets. Praying for him will help him stay strong and in turn will help you by giving you a stronger husband. Win/win. Do not underestimate the power of your prayers for him.
Submission is harder than it looks. While in the honeymoon phase of your marriage the idea of disagreeing with your man or defying him will be almost impossible to imagine. You are blessed in that your man has had a good example in his father. His father always asks my perspective on things, but by God’s design the ultimate choices of life belong to him. He has to answer to God for his choices. I have to answer for my submission or lack thereof. Sometimes I strongly disagree with his choices. This is natural as we are very different individuals. It takes a stronger woman to submit to a husband than to argue. My husband is rarely wrong, and in that 2% of the time when he actually is, it is God’s business to change his mind, not mine. Expressing an opinion is acceptable but may not always have an effect. If I defy my husband it tells him I don’t trust him or his ability to lead. Your submission will have a profound affect on your marriage and how ‘manly’ he sees himself. He can only lead if you follow.
God had brought you two together and has some amazing plans for your lives!
This advice may sound sober and serious. These ideas are the core of the relationship.
Most of your time together will be filled with love, security, and a great deal of fun. With the basics right, the easy and comfortable fun of marriage naturally follows and grows.
Marriage to the right person is awesome. We are so thankful God has brought you together!!